to reach the lost

When we told people we were moving to Boulder, everyone thought we were crazy – crazy to leave full-time jobs, comfort, family and friends.  We’ve floated in faith since we got here.  It’s been one challenge after another; each challenge reminding us that God is faithful and steadfast, even when we are faithless and shattered.

Perhaps we thought that it was enough to leave our comforts to plant a church in a very uncomfortable city, but today it doesn’t feel like it’s enough anymore.  I am wrestling with the idea of comfort, faith and sacrifice.  Have we really given everything?  A few months ago it seemed like the answer to that question was a resounding YES!  Today, it doesn’t.  To be honest, I don’t think we’ve really given up much.  We are far from comfortable and every month we have no idea how we are going to eat or pay our bills, but is that the essence of the Gospel?

We are learning to cling to God in the midst of darkness, but that’s (our) lesson –(our) journey.  That isn’t the Gospel.  We didn’t come here for (our)selves, we came here for the lost and broken.  It’s felt difficult focusing on others in the midst of our own battles and struggles, but ultimately we came here to lay our lives down, not to cling onto them.  I’ve been wrestling with God on this.  What does it look like to surrender more?  What does it mean for “us” to give everything for the Gospel?  Who are we not reaching?  Where are we not going?

I admit ­– I have let my fears keep me “inside” my house.  I have allowed myself to be shackled to the only comfort I know… my tidy home in my safe neighborhood.  When we felt called here, we started praying for the darkest hearts and the most broken lives.  I am convinced that we are called to have a church of societal misfits.  I do not believe that we are primarily called to reach the “healthy”.  Our heart has always belonged to those who are “unfixable” by society’s standards.

Knowing this I must wrestle with my own life.  Have I laid down my life for these treasured souls?  Have I given up everything to reach them?

… with all my heart … may a future blog tell the story of a life surrendered and a lost people found.

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idols, asherah and surrender

I’ve been reading through 1 and 2 Kings lately.  I love these two books in Scripture.  They are so convicting and challenging.  They are full of heroic endeavors, miraculous wonder, and prophetic warnings.  But what I love the most about them is the story they tell about a sinful people and their gracious God.

These two books tell of king after king, and how each authority leads its people to and away from God.  You have kings like Joram who did evil in the sight of God (2 Kings 8:27).  Then you have Jehu, who carefully constructed a plan to destroy the baal worshippers, but did not walk in the law of the LORD with all His heart (2 Kings 10).  {This appears to be the story of many of the kings.  They made strides to devote themselves to God, but they allowed certain sins to remain in their lives and in the land, which led the people away from God.}  And then you have a few precious kings, who act like my personal favorite – Hezekiah.  Of these kings it is written about them that they “did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done” (2 Kings 18:3).  These men didn’t take any chances.  They were not only devoted to God, but they also took measures to keep that devotion in the land.  They destroyed anything that would turn the people away from worshipping God.

Every time I read about the kings of Israel and Judah, I am left to ponder my own heart.  I rule my own life and my own heart.  I am keeper of my land.  I am the protector of my home.  Where do I lie?  I desperately want to be like the kings who emulated David. These were not perfect men, but they were wholly devoted to God and the sanctity of His worship.

But I fear that I too often fall in the middle.

Sometimes I like to take inventory of my heart.  What’s sitting on a throne in this precious space?  Am I lover of money?  Do I covet others’ possessions?  Have I allowed entertainment to elevate itself?

Even good things can quickly become idols in our lives.  Ministry can quickly bump our devotion to God as we seek success rather than intimacy.  Family, although entirely good, can sometimes distract us from our First Love.  I don’t want to be someone who has mini idols set up in my heart.  I want to be fierce about destroying all that seeks to destroy my devotion to Christ.

I love the Hymn, “Come Thou Fount”.  The plea in this hymn is a constant prayer of mine…

prone to wander, Lord I feel it;

prone to leave the God I love. 

Let your grace, like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee!

May I be a woman who takes my authority seriously by refusing to allow any Asherah or Idol to compete against the sacred worship to Jesus Christ alone!

when peace rules

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

I apologize for taking such a long break from my blog. I like to post a few times a week. But my life has necessitated a break in order for me to process the past couple of weeks. I have been able to gain some perspective about what God has been doing in me.

I have found myself being tossed around by circumstances, which has led to a desperate yearning for a peace much deeper than what I’ve ever possessed.

The fact that I can be surrounded by the furies of life and still have a deep internal peace is changing my relationship with Jesus. I’m growing addicted to the peace that doesn’t come from the world, but exists simply because I know the Prince of Peace Himself.

For most of my life, I have known the peace that comes through having a comfortable life; and though I have gone through my fair share of trials, through which I have been forced to seek a deeper peace, I do not know that I have ever experienced peace in such a tangible way as I have these past few weeks.

I used to view peace as something that I must strive to attain. But it appears that true peace is less about striving after and more about shifting our focus and surrendering to the only One who can offer us refuge from the worries of this life. I’ve obtained this opinion after looking at a few precious verses in Colossians 3:12-17. In the verses that proceed verse 15, we are instructed to “put on” a heart of compassion, humility, kindness, love, etc… “Put on” is an active verb. It mandates that we do something. Our clothes don’t just climb upon on our bodies in the morning – we must put them on. Likewise, many Christ-like attributes require us to actively live out the faith. But Paul instructs us to possess peace through a different mode – he doesn’t call us to actively clothe ourselves in it; rather, he tells us to “decide” to let what we already possess in Christ to take ownership in our lives, or to rule our hearts. That word rule means to determine, direct, or control. This is not a peace that comes and goes, but rather, something dictates the core of who we are.

Peace comes when we fix our eyes on (Who) instead of (what). Allowing peace to rule our lives, means that we completely alter our focus away from (what) we see and look upon (Whom) we know.

If we know that God is good… then why do we worry about where our                                 food will come from?

If we know that God is love… then why do we worry about being alone?

If we know that God is faithful… why do we concern ourselves with                                       money, jobs, health, etc…?

I think it’s because we simply don’t know God well enough. We don’t really believe that He will feed us. We don’t really believe that He will take care of us. We don’t know Him well enough to trust that His hand is always there to guide us and provide for us. We don’t know the richness of His love and the depths of His friendship well enough to be led by them; so instead, we turn to what we do know – the tangible elements of this world. And when our job fails, so does our peace. When our health wanes, our peace falters.

We are too much like the Israelites.

As they were being led away from slavery and into the promised land, they yearned for one thing – slavery. They knew the life of slavery, they didn’t know the life dependent on God. They trusted what they knew in a tangible way; and even though God had such better plans for them then captivity, they still desired to go back. Because they couldn’t see the promised land, immediately they groaned for what they knew.

How deeply I can relate.

One of the beautiful things about God is His incredible patience towards us. The more we find ourselves in circumstances that seem too big for us to handle, the more we are able to see our Rescuer for Who He really is. Our faith gets stretched and we get rescued – ahhhh, yes, God is a rescuer. Now I’ve experienced Him as such and I have peace next time I’m up against the wilderness… the promised land awaits me.

Knowing God doesn’t happen over night; it happens over a lifetime of studying His character and knowing Him in our own lives. I’ve become convinced that the more I know God, the easier it is to trust Him, thus possessing that deep tranquility of the soul.

Do I worry? Yes. But when I stop looking at my circumstances and begin to gaze upon my God, the worries subside. Allowing peace to RULE my heart simply requires me to have a steadfast gaze upon (Who) rather than (what).

four months

October is here.  The leaves are falling off the trees, leaving their yellow trace all over my front yard.  I love this season.  Life gets one last breath before winter takes it by force and in finality.  I’m so glad that death happens slowly and not with one good storm.  We get to watch the process unfold before our eyes – both in nature and in our existence.

Boulder has been our home for four months now and as I look back, I am in awe of what has transpired in my own heart.  So many things in my soul have been killed.  At the time, I desperately wished that God would just take those things quickly and leave me as (un)maimed as possible.  But like the seasons – and like life – our Spiritual being is formed with time.  We are slowly brought to death, only to be brought back to life.  Though it went unappreciated at the time, I am now so thankful that, like the seasons, death does not come in a fierce blow, but through several storms.

Each storm has called to question my service to God.  And as so much has died within me, so much has been brought to life as well.

Four months and…

  • I no longer stress about paying our rent – I know God will provide
  • I walked away from a potential full-time job – Raising my girls means more than a paycheck
  • I have stopped questioning if we are called here – We are here, therefore we are called
  • I have allowed myself to dream about the Church – I am burdened for this city
  • Discomfort pays frequent visit to followers of Christ – We are not called to comfort
  • Discipleship is costly – He is worth the cost
  • I have abandoned many worldly things – I can now embrace more fully Eternal things

For those of you who have been reading my blog… thank you for allowing myself to process this journey.  I am sure I will have more posts where I wrestle with doubt, insecurity, pain, and heartache.  But I want to make sure that in the midst of giving you an authentic portrayal of my life, I don’t neglect to share with you how good God has been in the midst of this journey!

It may have taken me 4 months too long to realize it, but I am being carried through this life by an amazing Father and an incredibly resilient Friend – the Hope I have is the Hope that brought me to this city in the first place – may God help me live that out daily.

not a hard Master

“How very kind of the Lord, not merely to send us the necessities of life, but even such things as, on account of the weakness of our bodies, or the want of appetite, we might have desired!… We have indeed not served a hard Master.”

George Muller penned that statement after he witnessed God’s amazing provisions in his life.

I have come to a very still place in my soul; I neither awake with extreme excitement nor do I wrestle with discouragement.  I am content.  Perfectly content in the season of life I am in.  Each day brings new joy to me – as a mother, wife, church planter, and child of God.

There are days when I question God’s involvement in my life, but those days have become more frequently submitted to the days when I anticipate God’s involvement in my life.  This has been the result of being brought to the revelation that we do not serve a hard Master.  It is not a sacrifice to serve a God of such insurmountable love and grace.  When He took on my sin at the cross, He did so to gain the Father’s reward.  He saw me as a Reward – something worth giving His life for.  And yet, all too often I do not see my own cross in the same way.  I do not count it all joy when I face trials of various kinds.  Maybe it’s because I esteem my comfort above my God.  But serving God is not a burden, nor is it a sacrifice; this doesn’t mean it’s comfortable or easy, nor that it should be.  However, the way in which we carry our cross determines how we see God.  God is not a hard Master, and whatever I go through for the sake of Christ is not a sacrifice, but pure joy – Joy because of Whom I am living for!

disillusionment

The words spoken by God to Job keep reverberating in the deepest part of my soul…

where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?   who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band?      have you commanded the morning since your days began?        Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail?    can you lift up your voice to the clouds that an abundance of water may cover you?  Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, ‘Here we are?’       who can pour out the bottles of heaven?      can you satisfy the appetite of the young lions?    who provides food for the raven, when its young ones cry to God and wander about for lack of food?   have you given the horse strength?   does the hawk fly by your wisdom?      does the eagle mount up at your command?   Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?  He who rebukes God, let him answer it.

I’m silenced.  Somewhere along the way I lost sight of who God is and my own understandings of who I am.  Can I contend with the God who knit me together in a secret place?  How do I question He who knows the depths of my soul, better than I?  My own disillusionment is crushed by the weight of nothing less or more than the fact that God is God, and I am not.  And while the temptation lurks to question God as to why He’d bring me here to “die” – the only appropriate response to Him is utter silence brought upon by the humility that is caused when something small beholds that which is truly great.